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Comment: Re:THIS will drive the adoption of the auto-driver (Score 1) 101

by DerekLyons (#49629619) Attached to: Self-Driving Big Rigs Become a Reality

*Certainly* the autodriver will not be able to "handle" a rig in the context of a terminal; there are just too bloody many variables to see that happening soon. But for the bulk of long-haul miles? I can certainly see a sort of 'local pilotage' system developing where trucks are driven by a human to a terminal on the outskirts of a metro area. From that point the human gets out and the autodriver takes it to a similar terminal at the destination city, where a local 'pilot' gets in and handles the truck from there.

In other words - reinventing a less efficient version of the railroad.

Comment: Re:Last time one was used? (Score 1) 52

by DerekLyons (#49627235) Attached to: SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow

I suppose its not a bad thing to have just in case but I don't see the reasoning behind the fixation on it as a design requirement and their ranting about its "importance" in press releases. In almost 300 manned space launches a Launch Escape system has only been of verifiable use in a single incident(Soyuz T-10-1).

My wife and I have owned vehicles with airbags for nearly twenty years. By your logic, we could have gotten rid of them since we never needed them.

Until a week ago.

Comment: Re:Last time one was used? (Score 1) 52

by DerekLyons (#49627215) Attached to: SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow

Also, SpaceX has done something rather clever. The abort propellent and engines will eventually be used for propulsive landings instead of coming down under canopy. So their abort system isn't a total waste.

Clever in some respects - but not without risks and drawbacks. (As compared to the toss-it-unused style generally in use otherwise.) Since the spacecraft is (intended to be) re-useable up to ten time "without significant refurbishment", all limited life components (notably the seals) have to last that long. Since it's carried the whole flight, the system has to survive all flight phases. And most notably, it increases the orbited, suspended, and landed weights.

Another consideration is that "traditional" (solid fueled tractor escape motors) were passively stable, while Super Draco very likely is not. "Traditional" systems could also be easily designed to passively steer the vehicle clear of the boosters trajectory, while Super Draco will require active throttling.

I'm not saying anything against the system, only that the cleverness comes with costs that aren't going to be obvious to the untrained eye.

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

Were you trying to say:

"LOL, nei, (th)að var ekki augljóst að "here" ((væri?)) Ísland og að (th)ú værir íslensk. En ((??????)) Google Translate get ég látið eins og hálfviti á tveimur tungumálum. Ef gert er ráð fyrir auðvitað að Slashdot ((sé ekki að flækja Unicodeið?))"

That is:

"LOL, no, it wasn't clear that here is Iceland and that you were were Icelandic. But (????) Google Translate I can come across like an idiot in two languages. If one assumes of course that Slashdot isn't screwing up the Unicode"?

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

I'll reiterate: People here think it's a ridiculous product. The page is stupid marketing to foreigners. Yes, there are separate accent and apostrophe keys (in case you're curious, here's what an Icelandic keyboard layout looks like). Hákarl (the fermented shark you refer to) isn't eaten commonly, it's actually fairly rarely eaten (though some people do like it). Most of the foods you'd consider weird are rarely consumed, like sheep heads, skate, etc, often associated with a particular festival or whatnot. Probably the only things you'd find weird that are eaten fairly commonly are horse and fish jerky (harðfiskur). Lamb is commonly eaten here but you probably wouldn't find that weird. We also have a lot of dairy products you don't have but I don't think you'd find most of them that weird. Anyway, probably the most commonly-eaten food here is pizza ;) Hamburgers and hotdogs are common too (though our hotdogs are made of lamb).

Whale is eaten here but rarely. Nearly half of the catch consumed in Iceland is eaten by tourists (a large percentage of which, I should add, come from America). Also I'm continually surprised by the percentage of Americans who criticize Iceland for whaling but don't know that America whales too, and no small amount (producing thousands of tonnes of whale meat per year). Yes, they're "natives" whaling, but 1) it's no less traditional for Icelanders to whale than it is for Alaskan natives, 2) Alaskan natives use modern equipment for whaling too, including chasing them down in speedboats, killing them with modern equipment, and dragging them on shore with backhoes; and 3) Alaskan whales end up no less dead than Icelandic ones. None of the Icelandic whale populations are threatened.

Anyone who wants to discourage whaling over here, a few tips.

One, don't come out with the self-righteous stuff, because it doesn't fly. Not only does the US whale too, but receiving lectures on morality from a country where a majority of the population supports torture and who engages in all sorts of obscene human rights abuses and whose domestic livestock are mostly raised in factory farms in horrible conditions doesn't exactly come across well.

Secondly, know that any overt pressure is just going to cause backlash, and the more overt, the more the backlash. Many of you may see for example Paul Watson as a hero. Here he's seen as a ecoterrorist; he literally sent people in to sink ships right in the public harbour. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to distance yourself from these sort of people. You don't make friends by talking up people who come in and wreck up the place.

Third, understand the local perspective. It's not only that they've been eaten traditionally since Iceland was settled (indeed, the word for "beached whale" also means "jackpot" or "godsend", because in the old days it could mean the difference between life or death for a whole town). It's that they live free out in the open ocean, growing up their whole lives unhindered by man (except when, say, a NATO ship uses a super-powerful anti-sub sonar in the area or whatnot :P), living a pretty much idyllic life - and a single whale provides a vast amount of meat. Meanwhile, pigs for example - also highly intelligent animals - grow up in horrible squalid conditions in many of the countries that criticize Iceland .

Fourth, there are actual arguments you can make that have effect, and have on their own been discouraging whale consumption - but which foreigners who oppose whaling rarely make. Probably the foremost of these is the health issue. Whales, being top predators, tend to have dangerously high levels of heavy metal and organic pollutant contamination. If you want to make someone feel uncomfortable about eating whale meat, point out how much mercury and lead they're eating in that serving. There are also lesser arguments you can make that may or may not have effects on the person, depending on the individual - intelligence (but you better be well versed in the scientific literature, unbacked claims won't fly), for example, or how long it takes a whale to die versus other types of animals slaughtered for meat - but depending on the person, that may or may not be seen as a good argument. But the toxin contamination issue will have an effect on pretty much everyone.

(also, realize that not everyone here eats whale at all, and most people who do eat it only rarely)

Lastly, focus on the tourists. They come in for just a couple days and yet a large chunk of them order whale while they're here. Many of them oppose whaling back home, but it's as if when they come here their strict "morality" goes out the door, in the interest of "trying new things". I don't think they realize that they eat such a large percentage of the Icelandic catch, or that they somehow disconnect from where the meat comes from. There's a campaign here called "Meet Us, Don't Eat Us", encouraging whale watching instead of eating whale meat, and I think that's a very good strategy. The whale watching industry is economic counterpressure to the whaling industry.

(As a side note - I say all of this as a vegetarian).

Comment: Re:Defense of the Article (Score 1) 400

by eldavojohn (#49620497) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

So there could be two groups, those who look to improve their skill, who quickly distance themselves from the group that doesn't. Of course, there will still be wide variance in skill between the members of each group. I'm sure you can think of other ways it could happen.

No, I can't. I started out and I sucked. I got better eventually through experience. In order for it to be truly bimodal, people have to start in either camp A or camp B and end in the same camp they started in. Because if you transition from one to another over time, any point in time will capture a group of people in between the modes. Now, you can argue that people don't spend much time in between those modes but you haven't presented any evidence for that. What's more likely is you have geocities coders on one tail and John Carmack/Linus Torvolds on the other tail. And in between are people like the presenter and I. And since I'm not instantaneously going from bad to good, the reality of the situation is most likely some degree of a normal curve filled with people trying to get better at programming or even just getting better though spending lots of time doing it and learning a little along the way.

For all your attacks on the presenter, your argument of a bi-modal distribution sounds more flawed to me. I would love to see your study and hear your argument.

Comment: Defense of the Article (Score 1) 400

by eldavojohn (#49619837) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

This guy doesn't know how to measure programming ability, but somehow manages to spend 3000 words writing about it.

To be fair, you can spend a great deal of time talking about something and make progress on the issue without solving it.

For example the current metrics are abysmal so it's worth explaining why they're abysmal. I just was able to delete several thousand lines of JavaScript from one of my projects after a data model change (through code reuse and generalization) -- yet I increased functionality. My manager was confused and thought it was a bad thing to get rid of code like that ... it was absolute dopamine bliss to me while he felt like our production was being put in reverse. KLOC is a terrible metric. But yet we still need to waste a lot of breath explaining why it's a terrible metric.

Another reason to waste a lot of time talking about a problem without reaching an answer is to elaborate on what the known unknowns are and speculate about the unknown unknowns. Indeed, the point of this article seemed to be to advertise the existence of unknown unknowns to "recruiters, venture capitalists, and others who are actually determining who gets brought into the community."

So he doesn't know......programmer ability might actually be a bi-modal distribution.

Perhaps ... but that would imply that one does not transition over time from one hump to the next or if they do, it's like flipping a light switch. When I read this I assumed that he was talking only about people who know how to program and not "the average person mixed in with programmers."

If he had collected data to support his hypothesis, then that would have been an interesting article.

But you just said there's no way to measure this ... how could he have collected data? What data set could have satiated us? The answer is quite obvious and such collection would have been a larger fool's errand than the original article's content.

+ - Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Hmmm Tasty Whale Tongue (Score 1) 47

Oh god, it's rare to see such bad English here. Maybe they got my ex's brother to write that page ;) And can they not tell the difference between their accent and apostrophe keys? Also, what stupid stereotyping-about-Iceland-to-market-to-foreigners is this? Just letting people know: almost everyone here thinks this is an absurd product.

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